Mr. Brain : Intro
About The Subs
I am watching the 704x396 .avi soft sub version of this drama. (There are larger RAW formats available.) My favorite fansubbing group, GiriGiri, is translating this amazing show. The quality of G2
work is always superb and I have been looking forward to this release from them. As a two person group, G2
does A TON of work and are working on several dramas this season. This kind of passion and dedication is something I admire and fervently support. As I stated before, what I really like about G2
is that they provide extensive notes for the episodes and I am looking forward to what they have to offer for this series. Thanks also goes out to furransu for the initial timing work and sarujin for working diligently on the adjustments and conversion!
On With The Show!
Kimura Takuya has been in a multitude of dramas since 1990 and considering that he and I are the same age that is really impressive! He has 14 Best Actor Television Drama Awards under his belt and from what I have been researching online and hearing from other drama fans, he has done some truly amazing performances to earn those.
I am not as familiar with Kimura-san as many other fans out there but a lot of the hype surrounding Mr. Brain from the beginning had a lot to do with, not only the many guests who would be appearing in various episodes, but Kimura-san being the lead. I look forward to watching some of his previous work including Beautiful Life, Hero, and Change. Since I am still fairly new to drama I am always happy when I recognize familiar faces from other series I have watched and along side Kimura-san in this series is also Mizushima Hiro who I loved in Mei-chan no Shitsuji. (When I first saw the unsubbed Mr. Brain Preview special I almost mistook Mizushima-san for Hiraoka Yuta
! HAHAHA! It was the hair and the kind of cluless, surprised look they both make sometimes!)
In addition to the astoundingly beautiful and amazing Hirosue Ryoke (who I fell in love with in Triangle
) appearing in the first episode, there are upcoming episodes that feature several of my favorites including Sato Takeru (Mei-chan no Shitsuji, Bloody Monday, and the upcoming Beck movie), Kamenashi Kazuya (Nobuta wo Produce), and the delicious Gackt, who needs no explanation.
Tsukumo Ryusuke, aka Mr. Brain, is a neuroscientific genius who uses his obsessive love of the brain, logic, and creative science to help the police solve crimes. I love him. *grin* It shouldn't seem like a surprise to anyone that I love anything having to do with the mind and many of my friends will tell you that I am a logic whore. Relaxing for me includes doing logic charts and chess so watching Mr. Brain is like a delicious meal that is just as much fun to watch being prepared as it is to actually ingest. The drama takes an interesting take on neuroscience that, as of writing this review, I am not sure is just fictional or whether it represents an idea that is a pervasive part of Japanese society. It is considered in the drama, by the police forensic team and police themselves, to be "not real science". Odd. Maybe someone can confirm if this is a belief in Japan?
Ok! Let's talk about some of the terms that come up in Mr. Brain - neuroscience, psychology, sociology, and logic.
Neuroscience is the study of the nervous system. The scope of neuroscience is incredibly vast these days and is no longer seen as simply a biological science. Because of advances in technology, neuroscience has become entwined with everything from computer science and engineering to even, one of my favorites, cognitive science. A simple definition of neuroscience, directly relating to this drama is summed up nicely as follows:
"The task of neural science is to explain behavior in terms of the activities of the brain. The last frontier of the biological sciences – their ultimate challenge – is to understand the biological basis of consciousness and the mental processes by which we perceive, act, learn, and remember." - Eric Kandel
I talk a lot about my work in my commentaries, but contrary to popular belief, my focus is not actually psychology, it’s sociology and communication with a focus on syntactics and logic. The short version is that my study and my practice focuses on helping people learn how to recognize, utilize, and effectively use communication, logic, and mental organization in order to help structure, control, and focus their thoughts and actions. (Phew!) Through self-control, self-awareness, and self-actualization a person can achieve a level of fulfillment, productivity, and selfness that allows them to not only live a healthier life, but to succeed in helping others do the same. Logic plays a huge role in my work and it is the foundation of everything I base my theories in behavioral therapy on. Simply put, logic is “the art and and science of reasoning”. The base of a healthy life sits atop the fundamental properties of logic; consistency, soundness, and completeness. (In all of my life, I have never met a person who actually understands, let alone implements, all three of these things.) Sociology, another major component of my work, is the study of social structure, social development, and social relations. One of the main goals of sociology is the examination of how society develops and changes and then how, in turn, this effects individual behavior and development within that society.
Psychology, as a singular method for working with people, is misdirected to the point of being practically meaningless. In this day and age, one of the primary driving forces in misleading, manipulating, and corrupting people is social structure and miscommunication. Relying solely on psychology, which leans heavily on a foundation of interpretation, means that a lot of the root logic and motivating factors of behavior get lost in favor of analysis of personal perception. Personal perception is often illogical and emotional and therefore, the study of said perception, borders on ridiculous. Neuropsychology however, deals with understanding a lot of the neurological and physiological processes that effect individual and social behavior and that is much more valuable to the ongoing study of human development.
When we first meet Tsukumo Ryusuke, he is a number 3 ranked host - which is certainly not bad - who goes by the name Yamato. (If you're unfamiliar with what a host does or what host clubs in Japan are all about, you can view GiriGiri's notes
, and also this article
at Japan For The Uninvited.) Being with a host is similar to spending time in a clinical psychologist's office; it is a clever illusion of intimacy and emotional depth that is actually more about stringing you along for as long as possible to ensure that you spend a lot of money.
I take a coaching route to my work, which involves a large amount of personal interaction and side by side work with my "students", versus the hierarchical levels, distance, and false intimacy that some of my colleagues in psychology take with their "patients". The successful host offers a mix of both coaching and psychological strategies to ensure that their "customers" spend a lot of money buying drinks thereby raising the host's commission and allowing them to earn bonuses. The perfect host makes their customer feel like they are loved, desired, and important, and uses emotionally manipulative tactics such as flattery, flirtation, etc, to keep them returning and spending money. The level of genuine affection or caring between a host and a customer is, at it's best, a minimally elaborate fabrication. It's more akin to a business relationship than a romantic one, however, there are instances where hosts will sleep with, date, and even marry their regular customers.
At the beginning of Mr. Brain Tsukumo-kun is certainly not a neuroscientist but clearly, if you understand what makes a good host, you can see where a host would need to have a keen sense of emotional psychology and even a general idea of brain chemistry if they want to rise high in the ranks. So, as a number 3 ranked host, Tsukumo-kun already had the makings of someone who understood the human brain long before he became an expert on it.
The main plot structure of Mr. Brain is this: When a freak accident injures Tsukumo-kun's prefrontal cortex, the undamaged areas of his brain overcompensate for the damaged ones resulting in a significant spike to his I.Q. and sensory levels; mainly sight. He loses a lot of himself, for example his desire for beautiful women, and returns to college to study neuroscience for 5 years. In those 5 years he becomes an expert in the field and ends up going to work for IPS - The Institute For Police Science. IPS is kind of like a CSI-type place where, not only do they do forensic analysis, they also research cutting edge techniques for helping the National Police Agency solve crimes. Mr. Brain goes to work at IPS, though as I said earlier, they have no idea of how neuroscience can help solve crimes.
While a lot of this may sound like science fiction, it is actually quite possible for some of this to occur medically even though some of the more complicated neuroscience aspects have been WAY oversimplified. I don't normally have problems with oversimplification for the sake of storytelling to a general audience, but if you're going to create a drama about a neuroscientist you shouldn't make the main character's "medical malady" grievously inconsistent.
For example, Tsukumo-kun's significant I.Q. spike is supposedly due to the fact that the other areas of his brain became activated to compensate for the damage done to the prefrontal cortex. The only issue I have with this theory is that while it is true that we only use 5% of our brains, the suggestion that something as meaningless as the "intelligent quotient" can be enhanced by the additional percentage, is a bit sketchy.
In Japanese culture, the I.Q. is probably still considered an accurate way to measure intelligence, however, it has been proven by several influential minds that due to the multiple factors involved in the way human beings gather, use, and apply intelligence, assigning a numeric value - or even implying that there is a way to derive such a number accurately from a standardized test - is impossible.
Tsukumo-kun's decidedly KY behavior, odd appearance, and quirkiness is a result of his damaged prefrontal cortex which is, non-fictitiously, responsible for personality expression, sexual responses, and correct social behavior. Something that I find glaringly inaccurate is that because of his damaged prefrontal coretx, he should be significantly stunted in base executive function which would include memory, concentration, and strategic planning. How in the world does a man with a damaged prefrontal cortex engage in multi-level spatial reasoning? That's like trying to play chess with someone with ADHD.
For those of you who like looking things up on Wikipedia, spatial reasoning is nicely defined there as "The ability to visualize spatial patterns and mentally manipulate them over a time-ordered sequence of spatial transformations." Continuing with Wiki, "This ability is important for generating and conceptualizing solutions to multi-step problems that arise in areas such as architecture, engineering, science, mathematics, art, games, and everyday life." and in Mr. Brain's case ... SOLVING CRIMES.
However, in the midst of all of this contradiction, inaccuracy, and oversimplification is a scene of sheer brilliance! This scene was so mesmerizing for me that I kept rewinding it over and over again to determine whether it was real or just Kimura Takuya having ... a moment. If it is just Kimura-kun having a kawaii acting moment then it's a real shame because it is amazingly profound and accurate behavior that could add a level of real depth to his character. If it was in fact done purposely then I plan to kowtow to whomever wrote that moment in because they clearly know their psychology. The scene I'm referring to begins building at timecode 1:12:30 and runs through 1:13:04. It is, in my professional opinion, an ingenious textbook execution of something that appears to be post-traumatic dissociative personality disorder.
Mmm hmmm ... never let a therapist watch drama. You see what happens? *grin*
What we witness here is something I hadn't noticed behavior-wise from Tsukumo-kun AT ALL throughout the entire drama. While his behavior is odd and sometimes disjointed and inappropriate, his analytical manner and logical speech are compelling enough to keep you from writing him off as some kind of clown. However, in this scene, trying to get Doi-san (aka. MR SPOCK) to lay on the fMRI table, he has this moment - after being negatively confronted by several people in the room - of reverting back to his "host self". He channels his inner geisha, almost as if Doi-san is a client whom he is trying to convince to buy expensive champagne or even, let's say, to sleep with him. He ruffles and fluffs his hair and makes the sound of an annoyed, exasperated woman (or child even), smiles, and leans forward on the table.
After raising the pitch of his voice to a more playful tone, he says, very seductively and nervously to Doi-san "You really don't mind do you?" He kicks his heel up behind him and bounces nervously and says, "Let's do it." When Doi-san finally agrees to get into the machine, Tsukumo-kun turns away with a look of gratification and satisfaction that easily rivals the look on a drag queen's face when he finds the perfect pair of pumps to go with his new skirt.
I watched this scene several times from it's building point and taking into account the damage to his prefrontal cortex, his resulting new behaviors, and his new focus on the brain as an absolute tool, it seems odd that Tsukumo-kun would behave this way. From the moment he begins explaining how the fMRI machine works, to the moment he's loudly dissuaded by everyone, to the moment he turns into a host, there are drastic differences in his body language, his voice, his attitude, and his personality that would be impossible not to notice. Is this another example of Tsukumo-kun's unpredictable behavior, is it Kimura-san's quirky acting, or is something else happening here?
Think about it and decide for yourself.
Regardless of how this commentary may sound, I really enjoyed watching Mr. Brain A LOT and I cannot wait to see how the series unfolds. I love any media, especially of the mass variety, that teaches people something and works to eliminate ignorance of a given topic. But think of Mr. Brain as a combination of Bones, CSI, and a good crime drama. While at first glance it seems as though the focus is to teach the audience how to properly appreciate the field of neuroscience, there is a very interesting and well balanced blend of action, mystery, science, logic, forensics, and comedy to make the experience something that a lot of people can really enjoy. The one thing I also really like, and can tip my therapeutic hat to, is that Mr. Brain is always stressing that it takes more than just logic, analysis, and rational thinking (Left Brain) to really understand the world around you and the people in it. This is absolutely true and for the sake of further education on this point, consider the exact opposite of Mr. Brain to be Hancho
and watch both series with an open mind and heart.
Look for my "Otaku Rant" and more details after I've consumed a few more episodes of this neuroentrée!
Thanks GiriGiri for bringing this great new drama to the community! Keep up your amazing work!